Congress MP Kapil Sibal admitted in the Rajya Sabha today that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act does not take away the citizenship from anyone, a reality which his party members have been refuting vehemently since the time the law has come into being.
Rajya Sabha on Thursday was witnessing a debate on Delhi violence which was triggered by anti-CAA protests. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, during his speech, said that people were misled on the Citizenship Amendment Act. While hitting out at the opposition for allegedly politicising the issue by spreading misinformation around the act which led to the riots in the national capital, Amit Shah asked if anyone in the house could point out if there was even a single provision in the CAA that took away the citizenship of Indians.
The Home Minister appealed that all political parties should say in one voice that nobody will lose citizenship due to CAA. Only after that, there will be no riots. “On what basis are we baking our political bread”, he asked. “Everyone sitting in this house is wise people, Kapil Sibal is a very senior advocate in Supreme Court, show me any provision in the CAA law due which Muslims will lose citizenship,” the home minister asked the house.
As Amit Shah had taken Sibal’s name, the Congress leader rose to intervene, and said, “nobody is saying that CAA will snatch the citizenship of any person. We are not saying that”.
After that Sibal went on to bring the issue of NPR, saying that during the enumeration for NPR, the enumerators will ask dozens of questions, and put D before names of people. This is not about Muslims, but poor will suffer, Sibal claimed.
Amit Shah then intervened to say several of Sibal’s party colleagues had made statements alleging the CAA will take away the citizenship of a particular group. He said that he can quote numerous leaders of Congress saying CAA is against minorities. Responding to Sibal’s allegations on NPR, the Home Minister also reiterated that no documents will be sought for NPR, like the last NPR during UPA govt. and people are free to not provide if they are not willing or able to provide some information. “As the Home Minister I am saying in Rajya Sabha, no name is going to be marked as D, there is no need for anyone to fear the process of NPR,” Amit Shah clarified. The home minister made it clear that nobody will be marked as D (doubtful) for leaving some columns during the NPR enumeration, as alleged by the opposition parties. To this, leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad rose and asked, “I think the home minister is saying that no D will be put with anyone’s name, if I heard correctly. You are saying this? so there will be D?” Amit Shah replied in affirmative, which was acknowledged by Azad.
The home minister added that if any member of the house still has any doubt, leader of opposition Ghulam Navi Azad can bring them to him for clarifications. Shah said that senior leaders like Azad, Anand Sharma and other members can come to meet him to discuss the issue to remove all the myths about CAA and NPR, in the presence of officials.
Time has come to stop the myths about CAA and NPR, Amit Shah said.
Although CAA is meant to expedite the process of giving citizenship to persecuted minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and it has nothing to do with Indian citizens, several opposition parties including the Congress party and left-liberal intellectuals and journalists have been spreading the falsehood that CAA will take away the citizenship of Muslims, thereby causing fear among the community and resulting in riots across the country.
This is, however, not the first time the Congress leader has stated the fact contradicting the lies spread by other leaders of the party. In January 2020 while speaking at the Kerela Literature Festival, Congress leader and lawyer Kapil Sibal categorically stated that states do not have the power to stop implementation of a law that has been passed by the Parliament. His comments directly contradicted the rigid stance that the CMs of the Congress-ruled States had assumed.
Sibal’s views were also shared by Congress old guard, Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Monday. He stated that a State cannot say no to a law passed by the Parliament from a Constitutional perspective. Hooda, however, said that the law can always be challenged in a Court of law.
It is pertinent to note here that the Congress party has been vehemently opposing the Citizenship Amendment Law, along with NRC and NPR. In fact, in its manifesto released for the Delhi elections, the party promised to not implement the National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) in its present form. The grand old party also vowed to challenge the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the apex court.
NPR is a part of the census and was earlier prepared in 2010-2011 along with the 2011 Census during the Congress-led UPA government. CAA aims to fast-track the citizenship of minorities from three neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who have migrated to India illegally, owing to religious persecution. As for a nationwide NRC, no draft has been laid down by the government. The exercise to update the NRC in Assam was initiated during the Congress government in the state, while by the time it was completed BJP had come to power.
Despite hard-hitting facts, the Congress party and its leaders did not back down from rumour-mongering and casting aspersions on CAA, NRC, and NPR.
The distinct narratives peddled by these Congress loyalists often contradicted each other and thus left the people hanging in the balance to figure out the party’s official stand on its own. One thing, however, remained common in their various statements – the attempt to club NRC (National Register of Citizens) and NPR (National Population Register) with CAA.